The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Headless Red Sox 

You may have wondered about this, so here 'tis:
25 Red Sox
1 Red Sox

Steven Pinker, in his book, The Language Instinct talks about what he calls "headless words", that is, words like low-life and Red Sox where the life and the sox are not being used in their ordinary senses. Thus, more than one low-life is low-lifes and a single member of the Boston baseball team is a Red Sox. Likewise, in baseball, the past tense of fly out is flied out. Thus, sabertooths, flatfoots, Maple Leafs, still lifes, and mongooses, although in the latter case the proposed geek plural is polygoose.

Ed's note: adapted from one of my contributions to the Wikipedia article English plural.

posted by Tom  # 10/30/2004 01:56:00 PM

Jimmy Fund returns the favor 

The Dana-Farber Institute in Boston is one of the world's great cancer research institutions and, under the guise of the Jimmy Fund, also the favorite charity of the Boston Red Sox, dating all the way back to the days of Ted Williams.

My brother, known in these pages as Uncle Jim, is an outpatient there, hence, as I told him, the name Jimmy Fund, and I went down there with him this week for a checkup (pretty good), and found, unsurprisingly, that the Institute returns the favor, as the place was a madhouse of Sox mania, with balloons, posters, caps, and every sort of fan apparatus, including a lifesized cutout of Curt Schilling. By the way, the support was well placed, the Sox won, if you haven't heard.

posted by Tom  # 10/30/2004 01:36:00 PM

Friday, October 29, 2004

Let's get trivial 

Britney Spears sure went from tasty teenage tart to MILF in record time, huh?

PS – For the culturally anachronistic, the definition from the Wiktionary.
posted by Tom  # 10/29/2004 10:27:00 PM

What if I don't want to stand, raise my right hand and recite the Bush pledge? Huh? What about that, you moron? 

From Slate: "I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt:
"I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."

Here's my right hand, right in the chops, Little Ken:

"I care about my freedom to talk dirty, stay away from church and vote Communist, racist, Democrat or Republican if I want to and my liberty to do any damn thing I want to that shouldn't be any of the business of the government. I care about my family, many of them out of work, three of them just little girls who will be paying the Bush debts and living with the disastrous results of the Bush foreign policy for decades. I care about my country, the one that stands for something more than the election of a moron who can't even talk without a wire up his fundament, that was once the beacon of the world and can be again. Because I care, I promise to work hard to defeat George W. Bush and his accursed tendency, not just in this election, but forever."

posted by Tom  # 10/29/2004 10:05:00 PM

Big Left Al leads cheers against the cheerleader 

Al Giordano is one-man Kerry pep rally.

Opening paragraphs:

"Four More Days!" A Two-Minute Warning Pep Talk

It's the two-minute warning, as they say in North American football - (I wanna scream, "Four More Days! Four More Days!") - that moment when the game is about to end but there is still a chance to change its result…

This is the moment to remind us all why we are here and how we are going to win this game.

Kind readers, we are witnessing and participating in the most important presidential election of the past seventy years in the United States.

Not since the 1932 election of Franklin D. Roosevelt have the stakes been higher, not only for United States citizens, but for the entire world.

So gather 'round while I offer a little pep talk about how we're going to go out and win this championship even though the official scoreboard (that is, the Commercial Media, with its corporate sponsors and formulaic pollsters) says we are one point behind.

Closing paragraphs:
Four More Days! Four More Days!

Pay no attention to those Commercial Media-bought pollsters behind the curtain!

Get out there and win that game!

One more point, one more voter, wins the game.

You have more to say about the results than those Commercial Media infected pollsters do.

This is it.

Democracy will be reborn on Tuesday… Or it will die.

That is all.
And there's lots of meat in between, mostly about Al's direct knowledge of Kerry and his political style.

posted by Tom  # 10/29/2004 07:17:00 PM

Bush pod people blow confetti at 9-11 widow 

He is certainly well-named – mat "crude floor covering" and drudge "servile hack" – but despite his dutiful service for the Republicans in these roles, he sure does love a good story, particularly if it involves disturbed weather, like this one:
BUSH EVENT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Event workers had been told to fire off confetti pods when Bush said, 'God Bless'... his normal closing line. But 5 minutes before the end of his speech, Bush offered a "God Bless" to Arlene Howard, mother of George Howard a Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Officer killed in the World Trade Center... BLAM!!!!! Everyone first ducked -- hard -- then looked up to see confetti falling. Bush looked momentarily stunned, then plain unhappy, then just went on with his speech as the confetti rained to the floor of the Verizon Wireless Arena... Developing...
What in the world could develop?

posted by Tom  # 10/29/2004 04:07:00 PM

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Secret of Spying 

The extraordinary Compton Mackenzie was a spy and spy novelist, among many other things. He explained why espionage activities must be kept secret:
Mackenzie always argued that intelligence work and secrecy went together not so much because the information was confidential but so as to hide the incompetence and bungling of the security services.
Like, maybe, the 380 tons of disappearing RDX.

posted by Tom  # 10/25/2004 09:47:00 PM

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Salty pig bone gruel, is there anything it can't do? 

The Matron of Honor passes this along from the Pacific Rim:

Mark, my buddy from Pho, has a mate who is teaching in China. This is some lovely menu Chinglish from a rather up-market restaurant in Beijing. As is usual with Chinese restaurants, there are a thousand items. But take these as a representative sample. (One of the waiters probably said "I know English, I'll translate this for you.")

The horse pulls the coconut cake
Sweet soup in the sand of hit pill
Fragrant honey in tea mel on book
Rounds the fresh shrimp bowel
Sparerib steams the bowel powder
The vegetables fucks the salty pig bone gruel
Living to roll the fish bone gruel
Fragrant tingle roast filet of pork crisp
It is famous to fry the twisted dough-strips
the joss-stick fryings the cowboy bone
Living to whet the horse's hoofs cake
The frailty fries book of coconut
The carbon burns tongue string
Burn the flavor platter
Sand nest cloud swallows the chicken
The ancient method horse pulls the cake
The juice of soy steams the claw of chook (an Australian slang term for chicken)
Mountain jean mushroom germ dumpling

posted by Tom  # 10/24/2004 03:33:00 PM

Saturday, October 23, 2004

I'm rubber, you're glue, things bounce off me, and stick on you 

The wolves say:
We were tricked by George W. Bush

They told us we were shooting a Greenpeace commercial!

Wolfpacks for Truth

Original Bush administration/campaign commercial here. Does that spokeslady have a British accent? Note the strong letdown at the end when it gets to "I'm George W. Bush and I approve this commercial."

It seems as we go deeper into the Slogans and Slander portion of the Republican program, we are regularly treated to demonstrations of the schoolmarm truism that when someone points a finger at you, they are pointing three fingers back at themselves. In college, we learned to call this projection.

posted by Tom  # 10/23/2004 01:41:00 PM

Double Dog Dare You to Tell the Truth 

Brother Dave dips into the mysterious east for this offering from the PakTribune of Pakistan.

This is a comment on the first debate, but the whole article is worth a read, not only for its content, but for the saucy use of our common language:
In spite of his position, as the most powerful person on the earth, George W. Bush Jr., was seen to be on a defensive, stammering, searching for right words, and showing his disappointment over some of the responses from his opponent, John Kerry. In this "Truth or Dare" game, he had to repeatedly chose "Dare", instead of saying a truth about the challenges posed to him.

As many of us know, the "Truth or Dare" game is also a western pastime, where kids gather, generally overnight, and throw embarrassing questions at their associates. In response, either a truthful answer is to be given, or the contestant chooses to perform a ‘dare", which is mostly an equally embarrassing action. In the first debate, George Bush had to consistently avoid the "truth", and go for "dares", providing an opportunity of a hearty laughter to his opponents.

posted by Tom  # 10/23/2004 01:28:00 PM

Friday, October 22, 2004

The worst thing about this terrible election 

John Kerry is a moderate Republican.

posted by Tom  # 10/22/2004 01:27:00 PM

Absolutely not 

Well, if a sleazebag broadcasting oligarch wants to broadcast an anti-Kerry commercial falsely labelled as news over stations serving 40 per cent of the country, duct tape over the mouth is not the answer.

This freedom of speech is tricky stuff.

First thing you know, someone is saying something you wish they wouldn't.

So? So what?

Get out there with some more freedom of speech and lay a big one on them.

Meanwhile, keep your hands off the Bill of Rights. It's the best weapon we have.

posted by Tom  # 10/22/2004 01:13:00 PM

"Terrorist" rhymes with "precarious" 

The Daughter-in-law-in-chief sends along a link to a sweet old-fashioned liberal song, "(Didn't know I was) Unamerican".

posted by Tom  # 10/22/2004 01:03:00 PM

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Does GWB have GWS? 

Brother Dave is the founder of the Phantoms of Lost Liberty, and a bit of a wrecker. Here are his latest thoughts on President Bush's condition:
Another possible explanation for the president's weird behavior, as evidenced not only in his recent debates, but also in his poorly explained rug burns and illogical pretzel attacks, and even his mountain biking mishaps has occurred to me. Does W have Gulf War Syndrome brought on by a reaction to his supposed vaccination for anthrax? And is that why he has refused to have a physical until after the election?

This report gives the symptoms of GWS and also a strong indication that they are caused by anthrax vaccine:
"Symptoms include muscle aches and joint pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression, dizziness, sleep disorders, rashes, and loss of concentration. Cases of a similar illness have been seen in personnel who were not deployed to the Persian Gulf theater of operations in 1990 or 1991 and also in personnel who joined the armed forces after 1991, though the illness in these patients has not been called GWS."

Finally, from Newsweek 24 Oct 01:
It's not clear whether Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or other administration leaders have received (anthrax vaccine). White House aides won't say. "It's a matter of security," one of them told me.

He sent this to Atrios too, but I think I'm first to run irresponsibly with it.
posted by Tom  # 10/21/2004 01:29:00 PM

Friday, October 15, 2004

Right slogan in the right mouth at the right time 

A big broad sweep and tip of the Desperado tan galan to President George W. "W" Bush for his yeoman work in pronouncing so clearly and correctly and spreading so far and so wide the opposition slogan:
Wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The idea could never have travelled so far if John Kerry had been forced to do all the publicizing himself.

Of course, as Uncle Jim observes, "It is probably one of the rules of debate not to use your opponent's best line over and over."

But when your whole campaign is slogans and slander, you're bound to mishandle one or the other from time to time.

Keep in mind as we go toward the election, the Bush campaign/administration has stolen one election successfully and made one good speech; everything else they've tried has flopped because they're just not that damned smart, no matter how crooked they may be.

posted by Tom  # 10/15/2004 10:32:00 AM

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Strange brews 

Brother Dave is convinced that Bush's Two-Face impression – one side of his face frowning and unmoving with a daub of spittle permanently at the corner, the other side brash and overbright – is full of meaning, scowl-fighting Botox being the most optimistic interpretation, with drink, drugs, and cerebral incident being the line of descent.
That irresponsibly said, on to some other odds and ends from last night's debate.
When Bush said that Kerry's health plan was "buggy-and-horse", Brother Dave instantly said, "Cart before horse, Mr. President?"
In the previous debate, the Canadian drug peddlers were trying to poison us with their third-world gray-market goods. This time, Bush thinks they might peddle us some flu vaccine.
Bush said that if we had the same health plan senators and congressmen have, it would cost us $7000 for a family. Bush meant that to be shocking, and it was, being a little less than half what I'm paying for health insurance right now. Sign me up. I want that Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan Kerry was taking about.
The media-baiting "joke", halted half-way through with a high-pitched Beavisian heh-heh, now that was a moment for meme-making, perhaps not the meme the president had in mind.
Duelling imports:
Yes, I watched it all, while Pedro Martinez held the fort.

posted by Tom  # 10/14/2004 02:31:00 PM

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Honky Tonkers for Truth 

Any common sense working man or woman
can tell you..."when the boss hasn't been doing his job,
he needs to be fired and replaced."
It’s as simple as that.

Another anti-Bush country song: "I'm taking my country back"

posted by Tom  # 10/13/2004 08:09:00 PM


Number one tune on Billboard, Cashbox, Peanut Vendor, and the Music Destroyer!

Roy Zimmerman's "Chickenhawk"!

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Well I'll tell you, pard
The chicken crossed the road to join the Texas Air National Guard

Free stream or download, proving that even legal file-swapping must be stopped!

posted by Tom  # 10/13/2004 06:02:00 PM

Monday, October 11, 2004

You know he'd take "de bait" 

Why hasn't one person – citizen, anchor, pundit, media whore – put these words into a microphone in front of the deserter-in-chief?
Mr. Bush, exactly where were you in 1972 when you were supposed to be defending Alabama against air attack?
The resulting film clip would be unimaginably rich, don't you think?

Other possible questions:
What is it with you and physicals? I see you're skipping out this year, just like in 1972.

You sure do fall over a lot. Gerald Ford's got nothing on you, sir.

Don't you think eight trillion dollars of debt is kind of pushing it?

Bill Maher says that with sanctions and no-fly zones, we controlled more of Iraq when Saddam Hussein ran the country than we do now. Your reaction?

Can you name one heavily touted Bush initiative that has unequivocally succeeded? Document your answer.

Last chance to make this coward crawl is in the upcoming debate. I'd still rather see an impeachment, but an electoral defeat due to complete and obvious pusillanimity is a start, leaving the option to impeach him between 3 November and 20 January, or to try him for war crimes next year.

You think this is all excessive, cranky, and in Bush-hating bad taste? You bet, but what do you think of today's story from the Los Angeles Times?
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.
Asking about that might get his pet goat.

posted by Tom  # 10/11/2004 01:41:00 PM

Phish on a bicycle 

It is to laugh. My last crime-ridden internet encounter was with a virus vector trying to make me think the president had been assassinated, which I found offensive.

Today's applicant is a phisher who wants my eBay account information, so he gave me the subject line:
Your eBay account could be suspended!
The mystical powers granted me by the great god Emacs-Rmail-Ascii enable me to see that the mail came from an account that included "cheapdomainsuk" in the address and wanted me to dump all my financial information on a purported eBay address in Italy.

Sure, buddy, but not until I win this bet by catching the 3-card-Monte guy folding down the corner on "my" card.

posted by Tom  # 10/11/2004 01:40:00 PM

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Here, via Brad de Long is a true and correct account of how Dred Scott came wandering into the Hooey in Saint Looey the other night.

The Bush campaign/administration believes that fanatical right-wing Christians will understand that Dred Scott is an encoding of Roe v. Wade and that not only does Bush want a Supreme Court that will "vote for him" (like the one that did vote for him, but more so), but he also wants a Supreme Court that will strike down abortion rights.

The idea is that just as the Dred Scott decision created a special class (escaped slaves) without rights, so did Roe v. Wade as regards the unborn.

The problem, as deLong points out, is that people so steeped in the anti-abortion ideology as to pick up the analogy are already for Bush, while the rest of us will just think he's raving again.

Indeed, how many anti-abortionists will pick up the code? Next: The misunderstood barons at Runnymede.

PS – My own view is that abortion is a terrible method of birth control, but that illegal abortion is a cruel, harsh, and harmful public policy.

posted by Tom  # 10/10/2004 01:40:00 PM

Friday, October 08, 2004

Once as tragic farce, once as farcical tragedy 

Brother Dave digs deep into his bag of rock and roll protest songs to resurrect the lyrics from "Superbird" by Country Joe and the Fish:
Drop your guns, baby, and reach for the sky.
I've got you surrounded and you ain't got a chance,
Gonna send you back to Texas, make you work on your ranch,
Yeah, yeah, oh yeah.
LBJ, the original subject here, was, of course, not afraid of horses.

posted by Tom  # 10/08/2004 03:19:00 PM

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Too much information, Andrew! Way way too much! 

Gay conservative Iraq invasion enthusiast gone sour Andrew Sullivan was, shall we say, warming himself up in preparation for the Vice Presidential debates the other day when he was moved to the following disconcerting rumination:
Well, I could easily be wrong, but I have a feeling Cheney will crush Edwards tonight. The format is God's gift to Daddy. They'll both be seated at a table, immediately allowing Cheney to do his assured, paternal, man-of-the-world schtick that makes me roll on my back and ask to have my tummy scratched. (Yes, I do think that Cheney is way sexier than Edwards. Not that you asked or anything.)

posted by Tom  # 10/07/2004 08:01:00 PM

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Colin Powell does PR for Zarqawi 

You may be feeling that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi somehow sneaked up on us as a evil genius of terrorism while we were hot on the trail of Osama bin-Forgotten but the English near-libertarian online magazine Spiked has a better idea.

First, the headline, subhead, and teaser:
Blowing up Zarqawi

How the coalition transformed a failed fringe fanatic into The World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist.

What a difference two years makes when it comes to being the 'most evil man in the world'.

Then, the final paragraph:
Zarqawi, it would appear, remains the petty killer he always was. But by making a myth of the man, the coalition has ensured that his killings have an instantaneous, global impact - surely what every terrorist desires. Why would Zarqawi stop, when the coalition has given him top billing in postwar Iraq?
In between, how it all happened, how a man with no connection to either Saddam Hussein or al-Qaida went to a Baghdad doctor as a nobody and came out the linchpin of American strategy.

posted by Tom  # 10/06/2004 11:24:00 AM

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Florida ballot problems eliminated, practice safe voting 

Click here to vote, sucker.

posted by Tom  # 10/05/2004 01:29:00 PM

Monday, October 04, 2004

Old high-school principal's trick 

At an imaginary rally somewhere:

How many people here are mad at John Kerry for coming out against the war in Viet Nam in 1972?

Many hands flutter and flap so as to attract notice.

Okay, if you think the Viet Nam war was still a good idea in 1972, leave your hands up.

Sullen sighs, all but a few stubborn hands come down.

posted by Tom  # 10/04/2004 07:16:00 PM

Sunday, October 03, 2004

That smell 

The Bush campaign/administration is huffing and puffing about John Kerry's use of the phrase "global test" although it is obvious to anyone who listened to the debate what he meant (and that it was pretty much what the formerly principled Colin Powell wanted too).

No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.

The President pretended to be bemused (apparently a specialty of his):

Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean, "passes the global test," you take preemptive action if you pass a global test.

That would have been a good point for Kerry to break the rules of the debate ("No actual debating.") to interject:
I mean the global smell test.

posted by Tom  # 10/03/2004 01:30:00 AM

Best of the GOP convention 

Meta-out-of-context quotations from the Republican national convention in a short movie How do you run a convention on a record of failure?

posted by Tom  # 10/03/2004 01:25:00 AM


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